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The Hedgehog and the Fox


TheHedgehog and the Fox

TheHedgehog and the Fox

Accordingto Greek mythology, a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog onlyknows one thing. Philosophers are in disagreement over which is thetrue path to finding true knowledge. The fox represents people who doa bit of everything with no specialization and depth. In some cases,all these things are unrelated. On the other hand, hedgehogsrepresent people who have specialized knowledge in a particular fieldand have deep seated knowledge regarding their field. Thephilosophical base is well represented by Pushkin and Dostoevsky whoclearly and distinctly define the fox and the hedgehog. Tolstoy, onthe other hand, was a fox, but he believed in the ideals of ahedgehog.

Pushkinstood for a classical fox. He had knowledge in diverse fields and nospecialization. Pushkin was good in all his fields and he thusrepresented a clever fox. On the other hand, Dostoevsky was aclassical fox. He specialized in his field and stuck to in depthknowledge. According to Dostoevsky, Pushkin was similar to him as hetheorized that he was dedicated to a single line of knowledge justlike himself, despite his knowledge in different fields. Dostoevskybelieved that Pushkin believed in different elements, but herepresented a single thing just like him (de Vogu¨ e´, 1932).

AnotherRussian artist Tolstoy was believed to have the personality of a fox,but he believed in the ideals of a hedgehog. Tolstoy had manytalents, but he believed in a completely different understanding ofhis work. Tolstoy’s interpretation of history reflected on hisbelief in the values of a hedgehog while his actions were that of afox. According to Tolstoy, history is not just information about thepast (de Vogu¨ e´, 1932). Instead, history is the foundation forliterary works, which deal with diverse issues in society. Thehistory of society gives a reflection of the societal values and theroots of the society.

Tolstoywas a teacher and prophet in most instances. Some people say thatTolstoy was a social thinker and martyr. His works often reflected onthe history of Russian and connected this to the doctrines of war andpeace. Tolstoy’s later works especially painted him as a teacherand a prophet. He gave an informed account of the history of war andpeace in Russia and its impact on the society. On the other hand, heused historical teachings to inform the society on the path of thehistorical society. These teachings are what earned him the titles ofa teacher and a prophet.

Hishedgehog belief is visible in his work ‘war and peace.’ Tolstoybelieved that war and peace are the main problems of society and theydrive the society. Tolstoy attributed all societal actions and issuesto the desire to avoid war and maintain peace. His historicalchronicles show that the war is was used in history as a way toinstilling human values (de Vogu¨ e´, 1932). Peace is the drivingforce for all human actions and even war is geared towards peace.This showed that Tolstoy believed in the ideals of a hedgehog, wherethe main tenets are that life is geared towards a single ideal andthus, specialization.

Inconclusion, Tolstoy was a fox but he believed in the ideals of ahedgehog. He had deep knowledge about various issues in life and hewas considered a martyr, a prophet and a teacher due to his deephistorical knowledge. Tolstoy was a believer in the power of war andpeace in society. He believed that all human action was based on thedesire for peace and avoidance of war. Tolstoy attributed all humanaction and desire to war and peace and this was that classic natureof his fox personality but hedgehog belief.


deVogu¨ e´, E, M. (1932). TheHedgehog and the Fox. NewJersey: Princeton University.